I create recipes for five Mediterranean restaurants that are Persian inspired so it only makes sense that our cuisine reflects that influence. The flavors of Iran are exciting and the colors vibrant. I crave the contrast of cooling flavors with rich & complex ones, and drool over a color palette of magenta, saffron, eggplant purple, emerald greens, rich earthy browns, and persimmon orange.
Pomegranate Swordfish with Romanesco & Couscous
This dish is not a traditional Persian recipe, but the use of saffron, sumac, and pomegranate gives it Iranian flare. Sumac is a deep red berry from the Sumac bush, that is dried and ground up to use as a spice. It has a powerful lemony-sour flavor. Like saffron, a little goes a long way. I add it to fish and chicken mostly, but sometimes I use it as a finishing seasoning for steak and lamb for extra acidity.
Saffron, is derived from the stigma of the crocus flower and tastes like sweet hay with bitter earthy notes. The best way to get the most flavor out of saffron is to grind a big pinch up, dilute it with a little water, and then add it to your dish. Adding the individual strands will not perfume the recipe evenly and it will be difficult to gage how much to use because the flavor gets stronger as it cooks. It’s easy to add too much and ruin a recipe with excess bitterness.
Pomegranate Grilled Swordish with Sumac & Saffron Marinade
Labneh or Lebni is my new favorite ingredient. Although it’s considered a cheese in many middle eastern cuisines, It’s most similar to Greek yogurt with a rich creamy sour-sweet flavor. Some say it is simply strained Greek yogurt, but most of my Persian and Turkish family and friends say it’s not Greek Yogurt at all and uses a different culture (keffir") to thicken the milk. I’d love some clarification on this if anybody knows because the Wikipedia description is not quite accurate (what a surprise!).
Regardless, I love it paired with fruits & ho...